HUMINT: The High Road

AN ANALYTICAL JOURNEY FROM Saigon to Mogadishu to Baghdad

HUMINT: Let's start making some comparisons. Given the situation on the ground in Sadr city, Iraq, it looks and sounds worse than Mogadishu of October 2003 and in some ways worse than Saigon of 1968. What if we hadn't left Somali as we did? What if we hadn't left Vietnam as we did? What if an ounce of resolve in Somalia is worth a pound of resolve in Iraq today? What if a grain of resolve in Vietnam would be worth a ton of resolve in Iraq today? Although these rhetorical questions they sound like reasonable questions.

Realizing the level of national commitment to our Somalia conflict was of a pre 9-11-2001 American mindset, it had an entirely different context than Sadr city has today. But why? Had the battle of Mogadishu prompted a national awakening back then, and the country mobilized then, the crises we face today may not have come to pass. Had American leadership answered their call to duty at that critical time, and more national effort expended earlier, the crises we are facing today across the Middle East might not have expanded into a conflagration. The simplest logic suggests our subsequent engagements in the region would be less expensive in terms of our blood and our treasure had we acted with unity of purpose sooner. The reality is that we did not act sooner, the costs cannot be differed any longer and we must now do all that we were unwilling or unable to do before.

BAGHDAD, 25 November 2006 - Followers of the militant Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr took over state-run television Saturday to denounce the Iraqi government, label Sunnis "terrorists" and issue what appeared to many viewers as a call to arms. The two-hour broadcast from a community gathering in the heart of the Shiite militia stronghold of Sadr City included three members of al-Sadr's parliamentary bloc, who took questions from outraged residents demanding revenge for a series of car bombings that killed some 200 people Thursday. With Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki relegated to the sidelines, brazen Sunni-Shiite attacks continue unchecked despite a 24-hour curfew over Baghdad. --- Militia leaders told supporters Saturday to prepare for a fresh wave of incursions into Sunni neighborhoods that would begin as soon as the curfew ends Monday, according to Sadr City residents. Several members of the Mahdi Army boasted they were distributing police uniforms throughout Shiite neighborhoods to allow greater freedom of movement. The government announced it would partially lift the curfew Sunday to allow for pedestrian traffic.

BATTLE OF MOGADISHU: The battle was over by October 4, 1993 at 6:30 AM. American forces were finally evacuated to the U.N. Pakistani base. In all, 18 U.S. soldiers died of wounds from the battle and another 79 were injured. The Malaysian forces lost one soldier and had seven injured, while the Pakistanis suffered two injured. Casualties on the Somali side were heavy, with estimates on fatalities ranging from 500 to over 2000 people. The Somali casualties were a mixture of militiamen and local civilians, who were often used as human shields. Two days later, a mortar round fell on the US compound, killing one U.S. soldier, SFC Matt Rierson, and injuring another twelve.

TET OFFENSIVE, SAIGON - Although Saigon was the focal point of the Tet Offensive, the Communists did not seek a total takeover of the city. Rather, they had six primary targets within the city: the headquarters of the ARVN, President Thieu's office, the American Embassy, a Vietnamese Air Base and their naval headquarters, and the National Broadcasting Station. A total of 35 battalions attacked these targets; many of these troops being undercover Viet Cong who lived and worked in the city. The radio station was considered an important target by the Communists. They had brought a tape recording of Hồ Chí Minh announcing the liberation of Saigon and calling for a "General Uprising." The building was taken and held for six hours, but they were unable to broadcast as the power had been cut off as soon as the station was attacked.By early February, the Communist high command realized that none of their military objectives were being met, and they halted any further attacks on fortified positions. Sporadic fighting continued in Saigon until March 7. Some sections of the city were left badly damaged by the combat, particularly by U.S. retaliatory air and artillery strikes. The Chinese district of Cholon suffered especially, with perhaps hundreds of civilians killed in American counterattacks.

There are a few revelations that these three paragraphs, in such close proximity, bring to my mind. We are indeed less safe than we were before the invasion and occupation of Iraq - but not because of the invasion and occupation, in spite of it. With the march of globalization, the irrepressible black market facilitated by failed states and sophisticated electronics - Americas enemies become more empowered by our own technology every day. Iraq was a failed state before the invasion and occupation and remains so to this day. Under Saddam Hussein, Iraq lacked the capacity to be anything other than a failed state. Although fragile, Iraq's new government represents an historical opportunity for Iraqis and the region. But none of those realities change the fact that an incompetent smattering of fools today represent a division of Viet Cong from the 1960s. The tactics and the terrain have changed remarkably. The culture and behavioral tolerance for the enemy in the Iraq war is very different. Al Sadr and his organization, outspoken enemies of the United States hold a number of seats in Iraq's parliament. Therefore, there is limited value in comparing the Iraq War (2003-Present, in the Middle East) to the Vietnam War (1965-1973, in South East Asia) except in terms of the differences. In terms of similarities - in all wars there is violent death and immeasurable dispare for a great number of heartbroken families.

One more prominent thing occurred to me when comparing Iraq to Vietnam. If the U.S. withdraws from Iraq how likely is there to be a repeat of the 1973 Arab Oil Embargo that crippled the U.S. economy making support for the government of South Vietnam more difficult? The embargo played a role in the eventual cessation of support for the government of South Vietnam and the people who had worked with Americans there. Withdrawing American presence in the region opens the U.S. to the same vulnerability we faced in 1973. As Iraqis stand up and Americans stand down, will the levers of power in the Middle East once again punish the United States, turn their back on the American people, who, by all accounts are addicted to oil? Considering Vietnam's economy remains lackluster the remnants of their animosity are not particularly threating to the United States. Not so with Iraq. Whoever or whatever leads Iraq will be the recipients of billions in oil revenue annually for decades to come. Can the United States afford a failed state, so adamant in its hatred for the United States, receive so much wealth and technology and presume the threat matrix would cool? Any reasoned prophecy based on a limited inspection of these three battles/situation should at least consider the above.

1973 ARAB OIL EMBARGO: The 1973 oil crisis first began on October 17, 1973 when the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (OAPEC), consisting of the Arab members of OPEC plus Egypt and Syria, announced as a result of the ongoing Yom Kippur War, that they would no longer ship petroleum to nations that had supported Israel in its conflict with Syria and Egypt. This included the United States and its allies in Western Europe. About the same time, OPEC members agreed to use their leverage over the world price-setting mechanism for oil in order to quadruple world oil prices, after attempts at negotiation with the "Seven Sisters" earlier in the month failed. Due to the dependence of the industrialized world on OPEC oil, these price increases were dramatically inflationary to the economies of the targeted countries, while at the same time suppressive of economic activity. The targeted countries responded with a wide variety of new, and mostly permanent, initiatives to contain their further dependency.

  1. American leadership shoul've stood up to thier responsability sooner.
  2. The costs of failed Middle Eastern states cannot be deffered any longer.
  3. The historical analysis herein points to the nessisities of success in all battles but particularly a nessisty for victory in Iraq.
  4. Victory is nessisary in order to begin the process of protecting Americans from the symptoms of failed states.
  5. Victory can only be declared when Iraq is no longer a failed state.
  6. The United States is unable to prevent the technology, invented to improve the quality of life, from being used to degrade the quality of life of Americans by the enemies of the United States.
  7. A Middle-Eastern backlash is more than likely to result upon leaving a thouroughly battered failed state in Iraq.
  8. The reprocusions would most likely include an embargo of the kind experienced in the aftermath of America's exsedus from Vietnam.
  9. When comparing the Vietnam War with the Iraq war, differences abound, not similarities.
  10. Al Sadr is an enemy of the United States regardles of the role he accepts within the Iraqi system. Treat him and his organization as such.
  11. Take the kid gloves off Mr. President.



HUMINT: Your Cerebral Cortex


HUMINT: Through observation - "selfishness", AKA, "self interests" or simply "interests" are complex emotions expressed by systems. A system can be an individual, family, community, race... and so on. Although insightful, interests are as complex as identity, so it becomes difficult to account for historical social behaviors or predict future ones from Ayn Rand's assertions. The more complex a system is, observers should expect more specialized behavior to occur. For example, individuals in society tend to adopt distinctly different rolls to facilitate greater efficiency. Individuals often make their life choices to symbiotically improve their individual and social systems at the same time. Under normal circumstances, one need not be sacrificed for the other. When a system is threatened however some of the most important specializations are those that exhibit altruistic behavior. If I recall, Ayn is not particularly impressed with altruistic behavior so we should ask, why is altruism so common in society?

Considering contemporary observations of individuals - as a cognitive system - we cannot escape altruism. Our cerebral cortex, the source of all rational thought, exhibits altruistic behavior during instances of crisis. For the most part, the benefits of our brain's altruistic behavior outweigh the risks. Our cerebral cortex basically shuts down, ceding authority to the brain stem, severely limiting our capacity for rational thought. Flight or flight human reactions are relegated to regions of the brain geared to saving rather than rationalizing our lives. The benefit of surviving however does not come without risk.

After surviving crisis, thanks to our brain stem, our cerebral cortex automatically re-engages and attempts to rationalize the behavior we exhibited that saved our life during the crisis. Most of our rationalizations and the behaviors they manifest are absurd but benign. Sometimes however those efforts to rationalize the irrational can lead to rituals that are extremely destabilizing, like drug abuse and suicide for the individual and ritual human sacrifice and suicide bombing for complex social systems.

In terms of functional as opposed to dysfunctional social philosophy, Ayn is an extremely articulate capitalist. Of economics, I believe value is dynamic. Sounds simple doesn't it, but it's not common sense. If you want to talk about communist or capitalist economics, fine, but we'll only make progress if we first agree that value in any given economy is dynamic. The belief that value is static is all too common in the world today. It's a big misunderstanding that is a big problem. The most ardent believers in static value tend to be proponents of the socialist redistribution of wealth. In their world, value is represented by a single pie chart and the capitalists are hogging nearly all of the pie. Only a small wedge belongs to the worker and or the people - where the worker is an blue collar archetype who produces widgets all day at the widget factory - the people is a more complex social construct, it includes the worker, the worker's retired parents and the worker's kids.

Society is far more complex than the widget making worker and his kin. In any case, there are far better methods to analyze society than misleading oversimplifications. Problem solving at any level requires first and foremost a willingness to understand the problem. For those that believe value is static, they do not realize capitalist leadership in free market economies play a central and irreplaceable role in creating the value that the "value pie chart" represents. They do not realize that the overall value in society decreases when captains of industry are admonished by law for their repeated successes. How could they understand such intangibles when everything in society is logically reduced to trading unemotional widget? They do not realize that widget ownership (when the widget is a home) adds value to a community, greater than rental units ever do, irrespective of their initial costs.

The fact is, a growing economy and improved quality of life is about creating value in society where none existed before. Economies are complex systems that evolve. Within economies there are sub-system industries that are specialized. Some industries thrive, others are rendered extinct. Monopolies under certain circumstances stifle growth but not always. Sometimes industries require monopoly rights in order to become established in an economy. Fortunately, there are no shortages of examples in history and in neighboring economies that can be used to assist in the decision making process.

To be sure, the final decision on any given social or economic issue will be both "virtuous" and "selfish" from someone's perspective.




HUMINT: Diary of a Brit

A British soldier, Gunner Lee Thornton, in Iraq called on the Prime Minister to "stop putting our lives at risk" days before he was killed in a diary extract that was released by his parents yesterday.

Someone suggested two points about this tragic event

1. He died because he was a sitting duck.
2. This family believes that their son died for a hopeless cause, one that was practically hopeless from the start because the Shia and Sunni are such backward Islamist hillbilles and expecting them to get their sh!t together is expecting too much.

Below are my rebuttal points.

HUMINT: Your commentary has two important observations that deserve further consideration. In the first case you suggest Britain's tactics are misguided. They've definitely changed their tactics to meet the threats that have evolve there. Despite their best efforts, in their area of ops, the situation appears to be degrading for a number of reasons outside their control. You are well within your rights to question their tactics as well as political motives. The right questions could save a great number of lives and prevent immeasurable pain for the families. I think it is however important to remember, decisions in war save as well as take lives. Decisions that save lives rarely make the news. Decisions that take lives make headlines these days. That natural imbalance is retarding perception of this war's cause and effect around the world.

Your second point, which I believe is motivating your first, is that the cause of this war is defunct. Your second point is a political and social position - which, in my opinion is as amoral as anything you are accusing the British government of doing. Your callous generalization about the hopelessness of millions of Muslims is both shortsighted and wrong. Consider the commonly held view of African American Slaves prior to the American Civil War - was Lincoln wrong to send thousands of men to die for the cause of liberty and national cohesion? No, he was not. Consider the commonly held perception of women before they were enfranchised - were they worth the effort? The list goes on...

The cause is to put an end to despotism in a region fated to receive trillions of petroleum dollars in the coming decades. Democracies (successful ones anyway) are able to progressively dissipate capital to the betterment of all mankind. Despots dissipate wealth in blood and fire. I seems to me that this soldier died for a cause beyond his contemplation and for that, the leadership in Britain is to blame. That they are so incompetent in their articulation of these wars is a travesty. That the families of the fallen do not believe that the choice their sons and daughters make to serve their society are worth every ounce of their blood - is a crying shame. I do not and will not believe this soldier died in vain. His family are in pain and that pain clouds their rational judgment to the point of being wrong.




HUMINT: Eternal Vigilance

What does eternal vigilance mean? To paraphrase Thomas Jefferson, in the calculus of our Founding Fathers eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. As good as that sounds, it doesn't tell us what the price actually is. Adjusted for inflation from 1776 - is it $19.95? In what factory is eternal vigilance made and on what aisle in Wal-Mart is it sold? Can we haggle over its value? Can it be outsourced? Those questions sound trite. It must be priceless. Is it priceless? More than likely eternal vigilance is a combination of tangible things like money and intangibles like the faith of yours "that all avalanches start with but a single pebble". If that's true, can we quantify the intangibles? Can we track the fragility of our liberty over time as a function of our collective vigilance? Yes, I think we could discretely measure the "eternal vigilance" (EV) of Americans and their mortal enemies over time (EV/t). While I would love to take responsability for making the (EV/t) graph a reality - it must remain an abstract concept for the moment. Even in the abstract, it can help us conceptualize the root cause of the problems you've pointed out above. If we had an (EV/t) graph in our hand right now, how might we explain it's behavior? Consider the following abstract answer.

The fruits are shading the leaves, indirectly poisoning the tree.

American society has evolved through generations of conflict - but with each passing generation the context of those conflicts become more surreal. The eternal vigilance Jefferson referred to in his famous quote is not precisely the EV our fellow Americans are lacking today. His wars were for independence and national sovereignty. Lincoln's EV was equally different than what we lack today. His war was for emancipation and national cohesion. We can hardly imagine not having the fruits of their conflicts. Indeed we do take them for granted. Can you imagine a scenario in which Americans would not? Is that their fault? Are we to blame for not fighting in the American Revolution or for the Union in the Civil War? Do public school pop quizzes take most of us to the trenches and the debates of the day? Many of those who died in the dirt had trouble conceiving the cause they were dieing for and they were living in history's womb. Even if we could taste the mud, blood and bile of those wars, would we as a society have a unified epiphany after the trauma of a September 11-2001? I don't think so.

While the above analysis shields the average American from your blame, it is not designed to do so. These are simple musing on the mechanics of any society. Thinking critically about the mechanics of our relatively high functioning society we should see, as you do, that there exists room for improvement. Alternatively, when our American society of today is juxtaposed against American society in history or compared to European society today or contrasted to the societies of our enemies - Americans have plenty to be proud of. I'm not talking about red, white and blue patriotic nationalism, I'm talking about how most Americans optimistically apply progressive philosophies without even realizing they are doing it. How are they doing it? It's their identity. Applied philosophy over multiple generations is transformed into unwaivering identity. So your essay asks, what is our national identity? Is it lacking the necessary ingredients to defeat the threats similar to those that precipitated 9-11-2001?

To my mind, philosophy and leadership are key to solving the intrinsic social problems you've highlighted. Let's consider the mechanics of those two ideas. In American history, American's relationship to their Leadership was more republican than it is today, not Republican or Democrat in the sense of party politics but instead in the definition of government. Improved communications has been a boon for democracy. Consider the following a political rule of thumb - as a society improves its communications infrastructure, the greater capacity it has to be democratic/anarchic and therefore less republican/autocratic. For example, in American society today, the President of the United States has to communicate in an increasingly complex and competitive communications matrix. Beyond the electoral process, what is the President of the United States actually competing for? He is competing for the constructive attention of American citizens. To capture their constructive attention in the midst of a crisis requires a philosophy with healthy roots, a trunk with more than 3,000 rings, healthy leaves and a clear articulation of the fruit to come. Alternatively, epic leadership driven by philosophy never promises instant gratification. Great leadership, like that of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln not only leveraged enlightened philosophy they carried with them a mortal manifestation of the philosophy they were fighting for. These men were Thomas Paine and Frederick Douglas respectively. Were Thomas Paine and Fredrick Douglas considered voices in the wilderness in their day? No they certainly were not. How was their voice magnified? By epic leaders.

These analogies and abstract models outlined above point to a very specific kind of weakness among American leadership today. The first weakness is systemic and outside of any individual's control. The problem is that the chaotic communications environment federal government operates in is a burden on their relationship with American citizenry. The second weakness is fully under their control to rectify and that is that the voices who understand the threats are in the wilderness. By addressing the second problem, the first is more easily overcome. The President and his administration will have to invite those voices from the wilderness to the Rose Garden on the White House lawn. Those voices would also have to be willing and able to make the transition.




HUMINT: Tactical Retreat?

1. All Allied Forces, withdraw to a strategic position within Iraq, possibly on the Syrian border at the Euphrates River (at the option of the military) and set up an impregnable fortified base with electronic and aerial surveillance.

If I understand your plan, it sounds as if you want to reduce the perceived footprint of American troops on the ground in Iraq while simultaneously enhancing their effectiveness with technology. In terms of mission, we stay the course. That mission is a bipartisan on and it is to protect ourselves and their young, fragile democracy. That's not necessarily a bad idea if the resultant perception you intend to engender:

  1. has a chance at the outset
  2. satisfies everyone (at least the most important ones involved.

Your plan obviously has to satisfy multiple cultures with very different mechanics of perception. Here's a suggestion, set priorities... Whose perception matters most to the progress of Iraqi democracy? As an American, it's a logical assumption that the aggregate Iraqi perception of the occupation is priority one. But don't stop there. Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Iran all have regional issues. China and Russia are looking at the plan too, wondering what will come of your reformulated adventure. It must be your assumption that the fickle American public will be satisfied to hear the American body count drop and that alone will re-engineer their perception of the war.

If I were an Iraqi, I would see your move as a tactical retreat. Everytime an American jet or Blackhawk screams overhead I'd be reminded of the occupation. My frustration would mount because I would see all of this American military power hovering, watching the violence and doing nothing of consequence to quell it. My perception would be echoed in spades by Iraq's neighbors. Marry that frustration to the ongoing negotiations with Tehran - and what do you get - a validation that the United States never intended to bring democracy to Iraq, but instead always had a back room deal with the Ayatollahs of Tehran.

2. Blanket the Iraqi broadcast facilities with the following message. "Iraq now has a democratically Elected Government. Pacification and reconstruction are the responsibility of the Iraqi government. Allied Forces will provide military assistance to the Elected Government if requested, but will not otherwise interfere. The Iraqi people are free to settle disputes within the framework of their Elected Government. If the Elected Government is overthrown by violence, Allied Forces will return to smash any opposition. Further, Allied Forces will leave when the Elected Government determines there is no longer any need."

Coalition forces do not have information dominance in Iraq. In fact Iraqis prefer information from sources other than the United States. If your plan is to commandeer broadcasting facilities and block transmissions from Syria, Iran and satellite - you might be able to influence their daily function with the media. Considering that the Pentagon was lambasted for planting true stories in Iraqi newspapers, I find this second point ineffectual. If the message you intend to send out were to go out in combination will all other perceptually distorting broadcasts, maybe a version of this message would hit the mark,

  • "call 911 in case of emergency - American forces have tried to deliver a democracy that wasn't ordered - Order it and we will deliver. Otherwise, sit in the dark and in the filth of your own making. Spill each others blood until you are collectively sick and tired of the killing, and therefore stop."

The problem with that message is that it contradicts any rational effort to reduce violence. The U.S. has yet to condone or engage in indiscriminate killing. I don't think the American people can live with their sons and daughters sitting idly by watching the river of blood roll by.




HUMINT: Locke is the key


What was the driving force that created American freedom? It would be wrong to suppose the incremental steps occurred without the kind of Jeffersonian vision that George W. Bush subscribes to today. GWB didn't invent the philosophical architecture of American freedom and in many ways neither did Thomas Jefferson. John Locke among others articulated it first and arguably, best. What is significant however is that Americans have applied the philosophy of liberty with revolutionary zeal. For their effort, they demonstratively changed the world for the better. Progressive moves towards greater liberty throughout the world still happen every day, in America.

Seriously, how does it work? The mechanics of freedom are as spiritual as they are material. For our freedom, we trust in the most powerful concept any mortal can conceive- almighty God. We do not put our faith in each other to guarantee our freedom. With all due respect to the outstanding American men and women of law enforcement, society cannot depend on the law alone to ensure liberty. In God we trust! While free societies may not resemble each other, a resilient hypothesis is that any sustainable free society must have members at it highest ranks who interpret God's will on earth in a way that is similar to how Jon Locke and Thomas Jefferson interpret God's will.


To manifest freedom where it has never existed before - God must have a central role. At first glance, this analysis may sound like it is advocating Sharia law. This work most certainly does not advocate sharia law and neither does God. God is the wellspring of liberty. If a society is on track to freedom, God's role must be understood to be Lockean. Misinterpretations of God's will will send society spiraling away from liberty towards oppression and senseless violence. History has repeated this lesson over and over again; when religion is usurped in society for the purposes of political power for an individual or the state, the pain of oppression sets in and blood starts to flow like the turbulent waters of a mad river. The fact that chaos is still relatively common around the world is reprehensible. What is less reprehensible is that regular people in chaotic situations such as war, dictatorship or the lawlessness of a situation like "the Wild West" turn to spiritualism for answers.

The Wild West 1865-1889 --- While the Eastern United States was beginning to experience the Second Industrial Revolution (which started around 1871), the frontier was beginning to fill up. In the early days of the wild west, a great deal of the land was in the public domain, open both to livestock raising as open range and to homesteading. Throughout much of the Old West during this time, there was little to no local law enforcement and the military had only concentrated presence in the area at specific locations. Buffalo hunters, railroad workers, drifters and soldiers scrapped and fought, leading to the shootings where men died "with their boots on."

Where chaos is king, God is the law! The most observable of God's natural laws is individual liberty. Locke understood well because he observed it. Through observation Locke successfully interpreted God's will. The march toward freedom has remained on track because of American's unyielding subscription to Locke's philosophical interpretation of God's will. If American society begins vacillating in their faith in that philosophical interpretation - a retreat toward a medieval, anarchic America is eminent.


To mitigate vacillation, contemporary philosophers should emulate Lockian and Jeffersonian logic. The following sentences represent such an exercise. --- Conceive in your mind the most powerful being. Articulate all of the things your mind becomes aware of when thinking about this most powerful being. It is not unusual for individuals to conceive of such things on their own. It is important that they do. This is the first step a mortal mind takes toward God. It should come as no surprise that societies around the world put their faith in God. God represents righteous power, ultimate supremacy and eternal salvation. Earthy alternatives are lackluster in comparison. God endowed humankind with the requisite freedom of mind to conceive these ideas. Liberty is necessary on earth for mortals to approach God. Liberty is the key ingredient in faith's recipe. Without the liberty to choose "righteous power" over "despotism" - "ultimate supremacy" over "slavery" - "eternal salvation" over "eternal damnation" how can God judge a mortal soul.

For these reasons liberty is non-negotiable. Anyone who would name the cause and effect of political freedom in America an occurrence of chance cannot comprehend that the United States was - born of revolution to achieve liberty - extended liberty to all American men through civil war - extended liberty to Europe and much of Asia through world war - enfranchised women and deconstructed institutionalized segregation through non-violent political activism.


Successful Americans are often Jeffersonian. The behavior of Jeffersonians incite conflict. True Americans embrace these sorts of conflict. In a world where Americans still hold fast to their national identity and foreign leadership still clings to the belief that human beings are not free - there will be wars. When conflict degrades into war, why should Americans embrace it? Because there remains an imbalance of liberty in the world. In those corners of the globe where liberty is disregarded, law is of no consequence. Unfortunately that same imbalance distorts the perception of Westerners who, without geopolitical context, cannot conceptualize an existence without liberty. In their minds liberty exists everywhere. Haim Harari writes about the misperceptions of many Westerners and does so by delivering context in the form of analogy, describing familiar juxtapositions.

UNDECLARED WWIII:The problem is that the civilized world is still having illusions about the rule of law in a totally lawless environment[s]. It is trying to play ice hockey by sending a ballerina ice-skater into the rink or to knock out a heavyweight boxer by a chess player. In the same way that no country has a law against cannibals eating its prime minister, because such an act is unthinkable, international law does not address killers shooting from hospitals, mosques and ambulances, while being protected by their Government or society. International law does not know how to handle someone who sends children to throw stones, stands behind them and shoots with immunity and cannot be arrested because he is sheltered by a Government.

For the reasons declared by Haim, Lockean and Jeffersonian philosophy continue to carry weight inside and outside The United States today. Most of the world's inhabitants today subscribe to interpretations of God and God's will that stand in contrast to Lockean philosophy. The disagreement on God's will is highly problematic, with respect to attaining liberty for all, where all humankind is ready, willing and able to be free. or all, where all humankind is ready, willing and able to be free.


Whereas Almighty God hath created the mind free; that all attempts to influence it by temporal punishments or burthens, or by civil incapacitations, tend only to beget habits of hypocrisy and meanness, and are a departure from the plan of the Holy author of our religion, who being Lord both of body and mind, yet chose not to propagate it by coercions on either, as it was in his Almighty power to do; that the impious presumption of legislators and rulers, civil as well as ecclesiastical, who being themselves but fallible and uninspired men, have assumed dominion over the faith of others, setting up their own opinions and modes of thinking as the only true and infallible, and as such endeavouring to impose them on others, hath established and maintained false religions over the greatest part of the world, and through all time; that to compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves, is sinful and tyrannical; that even the forcing him to support this or that teacher of his own religious persuasion, is depriving him of the comfortable liberty of giving his contributions to the particular pastor, whose morals he would make his pattern, and whose powers he feels most persuasive to righteousness, and is withdrawing from the ministry those temporary rewards, which proceeding from an approbation of their personal conduct, are an additional incitement to earnest and unremitting labours for the instruction of mankind; that our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions, any more than our opinions in physics or geometry; that therefore the proscribing any citizen as unworthy the public confidence by laying upon him an incapacity of being called to offices of trust and emolument, unless he profess or renounce this or that religious opinion, is depriving him injuriously of those privileges and advantages to which in common with his fellow-citizens he has a natural right; that it tends only to corrupt the principles of that religion it is meant to encourage, by bribing with a monopoly of worldly honours and emoluments, those who will externally profess and conform to it; that though indeed these are criminal who do not withstand such temptation, yet neither are those innocent who lay the bait in their way; that to suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion, and to restrain the profession or propagation of principles on supposition of their ill tendency, is a dangerous fallacy, which at once destroys all religious liberty, because he being of course judge of that tendency will make his opinions the rule of judgment, and approve or condemn the sentiments of others only as they shall square with or differ from his own; that it is time enough for the rightful purposes of civil government, for its officers to interfere when principles break out into overt acts against peace and good order; and finally, that truth is great and will prevail if left to herself, that she is the proper and sufficient antagonist to error, and has nothing to fear from the conflict, unless by human interposition disarmed of her natural weapons, free argument and debate, errors ceasing to be dangerous when it is permitted freely to contradict them:

Be it enacted by the General Assembly, That no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinion in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.


Think about how society's interpretation of God's will keep a free country free - or not.




HUMINT: Cold War to Terror

Thoughts on Cold War logic and the American led War on Terrorism in the Middle East

HUMINT: Cold war calculus doesn't work well against Iranian aggression. Asymmetric warfare requires an ideological undercurrent, virulently intolerant of the perceived enemy and favors the use of violence. When attacks occur, they typically strike soft targets - mostly with off the shelf technology married to rudimentary explosives. If you are interested in comparing - I ask, why should a nation that openly advocates asymmetric warfare like Iran buy (or build) carrier battle groups when they intend to capitalize on their asymmetric successes? Iran's economy does not resemble the former Soviet Union's economy. The West cannot out produce the Iranian industrial machine because increases in rates of production here favor their petroleum based economy.

An alternative point; the Soviets experienced WWII and were planning to fight that kind of war with the United States. The mutual arms race between the Americans and the Soviets required top secret discretion. The Iranians didn't experience WWII and do not carry the impressions of WWII. Their most vivid memories are of the Iran-Iraq war. A war where Tehran's sickeningly overt tactics wasted an unprecedented amount their country's own flesh and blood. Human waves consisting mostly of untrained men and boys were flesh fodder for Iraqi machine guns - and the Iranians still managed to push their Iraqi enemies to retreat.

The rules of the West's long war in the Middle East are very different than the rules of the Cold War. Iran is an important example to discuss but certainly not the only enemy to America's global ambitions. For sustained growth of the global economy, prerequisites are peace and stability in the Middle East. The most logical approach to such an ideal, from an American perspective, is through the propagation of democracy across the region. Within the region there are a great number of asymmetric obstacles to such an ambition. Iran is just one enemy of the US vision. Other states and non-state actor operate with similar behavioral traits.

How many small craft did it require to disable and nearly sink the USS Cole? How many truck bombs did it take to hasten our retreat from Lebanon? The 9/11 hijackers didn't use their own vehicles to strike the World Trade Center, so the question changes; who trained the hijackers in engineering and aviation?

When you consider confronting Iran, put away your Axis and Allies board game and ask yourself why Iran announces their nuclear defiance, blatantly threatens Israel, suppresses internal dissent and clings closely to Islamic dogma? They are building support across the region to redefine the global balance of power. The new empire of their desires will be geared to their favor. Their identity is predicated on the notion that the US and her allies around the world represent a hegemonic empire. The fact is, American management of the global march toward democracy is anything but imperialist. The inclusiveness, tolerance and respect for liberty inherent in American culture is an existential threat to ideological segregationists like the Iranian regime. To thwart the march of democracy, Iranian leadership will continue to lash out at the pillars of the West.

Their intent is to render international diplomacy and Western military tactics impotent. The ace up their sleeve is ideology. Machiavelli once said that the power of the state could be measured in terms of the willingness of its men to die for the state. If he was correct, how many suicide bombers equal one conventional tank? Our only hope is that my version of Machiavelli's maxim is correct - the power of any state can be measured by the willingness of its people to live for the state. My version only works when government is established for the people, by the people. Without a guarantee of liberty, my version is just another definition of slavery. Anyway, I digress...

Make no mistake, Americans have a deadly serious, regional fight on their hands that goes beyond the insurgency facing them in Iraq and Afghanistan. It's an ideological fight, it's an asymmetric fight and it's a fight the West cannot afford to lose.




HUMINT: Art of the Iraq War

Iraqi artist paints Rumsfeld gloating over ruins of Iraq

[EXCERPT] Rumsfeld is depicted leaning back reading papers, with combat-boot-clad feet propped up on a ruined building. Beside him is a weathered image of the Lion of Babylon -- potent symbol of Iraq's illustrious past -- atop a ruined plinth. The US official is surrounded by whirling bits of paper that morph into birds and fly off into the distance. The artist's image is striking and it was conceived in anger -- not just over the occupation of Iraq but also over what Mohsen sees as the humiliation of a nation that once taught mankind how to write.

HUMINT: Iraqis were not allowed to vent frustration under Saddam. The humiliated internalized their grief or were crushed by Saddam's dictatorship. I really like this story on a number of levels. First, the image created by the artist is both passionate and moving. It is the most articulate example of the liberated lashing out at the liberator I've witnessed. The transition to freedom for Iraqis (fraught with insecurity) is a truly traumatic experience. WWII comparisons with the Iraq War - between liberator and liberated - are off the mark. Europeans invaded by Germans were temporarily oppressed. Iraqis have lived for decades under oppression. Iraqis are slowly waking up to their own abilities, testing the limits, doing exactly what free people should do. Unfortunately, the country lacks stability, and if it slips back into another dictatorship all of this pain they are experiencing now will validate their sense of victimhood. They will not mature as a society and begin to recognize who is to blame for their condition and understand how they can rectify the situation themselves. This painting represents healing. In a decade or so, there will instead be statues of honor...




SPENGLER: Rene Descartes

Halloween came late in Washington - By Spengler

[EXCERPT] Rene Descartes was misguided to write, "I think, therefore I am." Most of us do not require a logical proof of our own existence; those who do require it have little interest in logic. More relevant is the converse: "I am, therefore I am willing to think." Past the limits of our potential existence, thought will not carry us.

HUMINT: There are limits to what we can know. Humanity should be humbled by this ever present reality. Consider a wall infinite in height and length - nothing can be known about the other side of the wall. Because we cannot know, we will have to imagine what is on the other side. Our brains are endowed with a near limitless ability to imagine the other side but the intangibility of our imaginings come with a viscous symptom, doubt. There are no physical constraints oppressing our imaginations but there are limits to our collective experience. Projecting what we know about this side of the wall to what we believe to be on the other side of the wall, we find ourselves able to develop intricate truths that require faith to exist. The same is true of doubt. Doubt requires faith to propagate as well. Fortunately, some on this side of the wall abandon the exhausting arguments and are instead looking for the doors through which we will all walk one day.




HUMINT: Purging Blame

Thoughts on the end of Rumsfeld's career as Sec Def.

HUMINT: The boxes of blame were piling up in the Sec Def's office. Partisan politics demanded he load them on his shoulders and walk out the door with them. It adds further emphasis to the perception that the real battlefield is Washington DC not Baghdad. Think about what we've done in terms of the message it sent to the Middle East. It says violence is working. It says the reward for doing one's public duty is blame and ridicule. Is that an experience we should expect Iraqis and Afghanis to emulate?

What we've done is reward the chaotocats in the Iraqi parliament by blaming and then dumping one of the few qualified American leaders of this war. Rumsfeld has made great strides under excruciatingly difficult circumstances. It's our collective intolerance of difficult circumstances that made us do what we did. By “we”, I am referring to the American people - By “did”, I am referring to the act of creating anxiety among a presidential administration in the middle of a war to make them sacrifice a key member of their team.

I’ve read outstanding analyses that claim Western democracies can’t win small wars. I surmise Western democracies can’t function as if they are at peace domestically while they fight a difficult war abroad. Unfortunately, no amount of “political postulating” or “blame trading” will make national security threats disappear. War is an unpleasant reality that the Sec Def will forever be responsible for. As a nation, I think this is the message we are sending loud and unclear to the world:

"keep the world's wars behind the curtains Mr. President. I'd rather watch Borat joke about rape, racism and prostitution than consider alternative national policies to effectively combat dysfunctional societies. You, not them are the reason those dysfunctional societies state loud and clear they wants to kill us all. Fix everything by doing nothing Mr. President and get it done yesterday!"




HUMINT: Chaos on FiRe

Posted by humint to SolidWood; shrinkermd
On News/Activism 11/04/2006 6:37:04 AM PST · 9 of 37

Four things are wrong with a large part of the US and the West in general:
  1. No patience.
  2. No will to accept sacrafices.
  3. No loyalty and unity during wartime.
  4. No historical perspective.
These are the fundaments for any successful war. People cannot expect to change the Middle East, eradicate WMD, regimes and Terrorists within a couple of years. It takes time. Decades. The Cold War lasted 5 decades. The war against Germany's struggle to become a superpower lasted 3 decades (1914-45). The war between Islam and the rest of the world started some 1300 years ago... People need to be patient, resolute and loyal.And the treasonous media needs to be taught a hard lesson.

HUMINT: I enjoyed this article and I think solidwood's additional context adds real value to the discussion. I'd like to point out several additional things that I think we, the United States needs to have in order to competently facilitate democracy in Iraq - before we run out of blood and treasure.
  1. We need to have the ability to identify our enemies in Iraq (our interests are a democratic Iraq and any enemy to that vision should be treated as such). Sadr, among others are not behaving democratically despite their being elected "democratically".

  2. We need to have the ability to identify and protect our allies in Iraq (sadly, many of Iraq's finest men and women are being targeted for standing up for the democratic movement spearheaded by the United States)

  3. We have to be able to sell the idea to ourselves first and the world second, that we are managing (not leading) a global democratic movement. (The United States is not an empire subjugating Iraqis for their nation's natural resources - however those same resources are still of interest to the US economy)

  4. Average Americans have to be able to identify with the Iraqi people in order to sustain this movement and right now, they have barely even met each other. Besides burqas, beards and bombs what do average American now about the people they are spending their blood and treasure to liberate? Not much.

  5. The alternative to the point above is also true. Iraqis must be able to identify with Americans, including the face of the movement for a peaceful democratic world, the American Soldier.

We have a long road ahead of us, there is no doubt about that. We have control over some of the conditions on this road but not all of the conditions. Right now, I tend to think we are making the effort harder on ourselves than we have to be. Some believe that is a reason to quit. I believe the American role in the movement for peace and democracy around the world is not negotiable. Quiting that effort would mark the end of our great nation.




A [HUMINT] View - Not Mine

Wednesday, October 25, 2006 12:41 p.m. EDT

A View From Iraq

Our item yesterday in which we reaffirmed our support for the liberation of Iraq brought some very interesting reader comments. This is from an American there who asks not to be named:

There's been a lot of discussion back home about the course of the war, the righteousness of our involvement, the clarity of our execution, and what to do about the predicament in which we currently find ourselves. I just wanted to send you my firsthand account of what's happening here.

First, a little bit about me: I'm stationed slightly northwest of Baghdad in a mixed Sunni/Shia area. I'm a sergeant in the U.S. Army on a human intelligence collection team. I interact with Iraqis on a daily basis and I help put together the intel picture for our area of operations. I have contacts with friends, who are also in my job, in every area of operations in the Fourth Infantry Division footprint, and through our crosstalk I'd say I have a pretty damn good idea of what's going on in and around Baghdad on a micro and intermediary level.

I wrote heavily in favor of this war before I enlisted myself, and I still maintain that going into Iraq was not only the necessary thing to do, but the right thing to do as well.

There have been distinct failures of policy in Iraq. The vast majority of them fall under the category "failure to adapt." Basically U.S. policies have been several steps behind the changing conditions ever since we came into the country. I believe this is (in part) due to our plainly obvious desire to extricate ourselves from Iraq. I know President Bush is preaching "stay the course," but we came over here with a goal of handing over our battlespace to the Iraqis by the end of our tour here.

This breakneck pace with which we're trying to push the responsibility for governing and securing Iraq is irresponsible and suicidal. It's like throwing a brick on a house of cards and hoping it holds up. The Iraqi Security Forces (ISF)--a joint term referring to Iraqi army and Iraqi police--are so rife with corruption, insurgent sympathies and Shia militia members that they have zero effectiveness. Two Iraqi police brigades in Baghdad have been disbanded recently, and the general sentiment in our field is "Why stop there?" I can't tell you how many roadside bombs have been detonated against American forces within sight of ISF checkpoints. Faith in the Iraqi army is only slightly more justified than faith in the police--but even there, the problems of tribal loyalties, desertion, insufficient training, low morale and a failure to properly indoctrinate their soldiers results in a substandard, ineffective military. A lot of the problems are directly related to Arab culture, which traditionally doesn't see nepotism and graft as serious sins. Changing that is going to require a lot more than "benchmarks."

In Shia areas, the militias hold the real control of the city. They have infiltrated, co-opted or intimidated into submission the local police. They are expanding their territories, restricting freedom of movement for Sunnis, forcing mass migrations, spiking ethnic tensions, not to mention the murderous checkpoints, all while U.S. forces do . . . nothing.

For the first six months I was in country, sectarian violence was classified as an "Iraqi on Iraqi" crime. Division didn't want to hear about it. And, in a sense I can understand why. Because division realized that which the Iraqi people have come to realize: The American forces cannot protect them. We are too few in number and our mission is "stability and support." The problem is that there's nothing to give stability and support to. We hollowed out the Baathist regime, and we hastily set up this provisional government, thrusting political responsibility on a host of unknowns, each with his own political agenda, most funded by Iran, and we're seeing the results.

In Germany after World War II, we controlled our sector with approximately 500,000 troops, directly administering the area for 10 years while we rebuilt the country and rebuilt the social and political infrastructure needed to run it. In Iraq, we've got one-third that number of troops dealing with three times the population on a much faster timetable, and we're attempting to unify three distinct ethnic groups with no national interest and at least three outside influences (Saudi Arabian Wahhabists, Iranian mullahs and Syrian Baathists) each eagerly funding various groups in an attempt to see us fail. And we are.

If we continue on as is in Iraq, we will leave here (sooner or later) with a fractured state, a Rwanda-waiting-to-happen. "Stay the course" and refusing to admit that we're screwing things up is already killing a lot of people needlessly. Following through with such inane nonstrategy is going to be the death knell for hundreds of thousands of Sunnis.

We need to backtrack. We need to publicly admit we're backtracking. This is the opening battle of the ideological struggle of the 21st century. We cannot afford to lose it because of political inconveniences. Reassert direct administration, put 400,000 to 500,000 American troops on the ground, disband most of the current Iraqi police and retrain and reindoctrinate the Iraqi army until it becomes a military that's fighting for a nation, not simply some sect or faction. Reassure the Iraqi people that we're going to provide them security and then follow through. Disarm the nation: Sunnis, Shias, militia groups, everyone. Issue national ID cards to everyone and control the movement of the population.

If these three things are done, you can actually start the Iraqi economy again. Once people have a sense of security, they'll be able to leave their houses to go to work. Tell your American commanders that it's OK to pass up bad news--because part of the problem is that these issues are not reaching above the battalion or brigade level due to the can-do, make-it-happen culture indoctrinated into our U.S. officers. While the attitude is admirable, it also creates barriers to recognizing and dealing with on-the-ground realities.

James, there's a lot more to this than I've written here. The short of it is, the situation is salvageable, but not with "stay the course" and certainly not with cut and run. However, the commitment required to save it is something I doubt the American public is willing to swallow. I just don't see the current administration with the political capital remaining in order to properly motivate and convince the American public (or the West in general) of the necessity of these actions.

At the same time, failure in Iraq would be worse than a dozen Somalias, and would render us as impotent and emasculated as we were in the days after Vietnam. There is a global cultural-ideological struggle being waged, and abdication from Iraq is tantamount to concession.




HUMINT: Studying Sadr City

US troops leave checkpoints around Sadr City - Published: 11/01/2006 12:00 AM (UAE)

[EXCERPT] Iraqi troops loaded coils of barbed wire and red traffic cones on to pickup trucks, while small groups of men and children danced in circles chanting slogans praising Al Sadr, who earlier yesterday had ordered the area closed to the Iraqi government until US troops lifted what he called their 'siege' of the neighborhood. Extra checkpoints were set up last week as USSadr City, US troops launched an intensive search for a missing soldier. Shortly after leaving troops dismantled other checkpoints in the downtown Karradah neighborhood where the soldier had been abducted, loading barbed wire coils on to their Stryker armored vehicles.

SadrCity-Strike Posted by: nadioshka on Tuesday, October 31, 2006 - 11:56 AM General strike in Sadr City to protest U.S. blockade - By Adel Fakher - Baghdad, Oct 31,

(VOI) – A general strike started in the mainly-Shiite Baghdad district of Sadr City on Tuesday to protest a seven-day-old blockade by U.S. forces. All vehicle movement came to a standstill, government offices and public schools stayed closed and residents blocked side streets in the neighborhood. “The residents of Sadr City went out on a big peaceful demonstration to demand ending the blockade of the district and other Baghdad districts such as al-Karadah-Shu’la, al-Horriya, al-Tobji and Washash,” said Falah Shenshel the head of Sadrist bloc in the Iraqi parliament. “The U.S. forces did not respond to the demonstration and kept the blockade on Sadr City,” Shenshel told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq (VOI) by the telephone. Mosque preachers in Sadr City called on Monday night for the general strike and said it would go on until further notice. The U.S. forces have been cordoning off the district since Wednesday to search for a missing U.S. soldier of Iraqi origin.

Iraq: 69 dead, US death toll over 100 in October - Posted: 30-10-2006 , 13:27 GMT

[EXCERPT] At least 69 people died or found dead in Iraq on Monday, including 33 bombing victims of an attack on laborers lined up to find a days work in Baghdad's Sadr city Shiite slum. The bomb targeting Iraqi Shiites lining up for day jobs in Baghdad's Sadr City slum killed at least 33 people and injured more than 59 others, police said. According to the AP, the bomb tore through a collection of food stalls and kiosks at about 6:15 a.m., cutting down men who gather there daily hoping to be hired as laborers. There were conflicting reports as to whether the blast was caused by a suicide bomber or a device concealed amid debris by the roadside.

US, Iraqi forces raid Shia stronghold of Sadr City (AP) 25 October 2006

[EXCERPT] The US military said Iraqi army special forces, backed up by US advisers, carried out a raid to capture a top illegal armed group commander directing widespread death squad activity throughout eastern Baghdad,’ the military said in a statement. Al Maliki, who is commander in chief of Iraq’s army, heatedly denied he knew anything about the raid: “We will ask for clarification about what has happened in Sadr City. We will review this issue with the multinational forces so that it will not be repeated. ...The Iraqi government should be aware and part of any military operation. Coordination is needed between Iraqi government and multinational forces.”

[EXCERPT] Also Wednesday, the military said it was continuing a search for a US Army translator missing after he was believed to have been kidnapped Monday night in Baghdad. Troops had detained some suspects who could possibly be involved,’ said a military spokesman, Lt. Col. Jonathan Withington.




  • HUMINT: The High Road
  • HUMINT: Your Cerebral Cortex
  • HUMINT: Diary of a Brit
  • HUMINT: Eternal Vigilance
  • HUMINT: Tactical Retreat?
  • HUMINT: Locke is the key
  • HUMINT: Cold War to Terror
  • HUMINT: Art of the Iraq War
  • SPENGLER: Rene Descartes
  • HUMINT: Purging Blame
  • HUMINT: Chaos on FiRe
  • A [HUMINT] View - Not Mine
  • HUMINT: Studying Sadr City

    01.90   06.90   09.90   01.91   05.91   09.94   08.95   01.97   09.97   08.98   11.99   01.00   05.00   07.00   03.01   09.01   01.03   03.03   05.03   06.03   07.03   09.03   10.03   11.03   03.04   05.04   06.04   07.04   09.04   10.04   11.04   12.04   01.05   02.05   03.05   04.05   05.05   06.05   07.05   08.05   09.05   10.05   11.05   12.05   01.06   02.06   03.06   04.06   05.06   06.06   07.06   08.06   09.06   10.06   11.06   12.06   01.07   02.07   03.07   04.07   05.07   06.07   07.07   08.07   09.07   10.07   11.07   12.07   01.08   06.08   09.08  


  • Best of Google Vid
  • Iraqhurr Radio Free Iraq
  • Kurdistan TV
  • RFE Radio Liberty
  • Radio Free Iraq
  • 1st Headlines
  • Al Bab
  • Al Bawaba - ARABIC
  • Al Bawaba - ENGLISH
  • Al Iraqi
  • Aswat al Iraq - ARABIC
  • Aswat al Iraq - ENGLISH
  • Aswat al Iraq - KURDISH
  • Big News Network
  • EIN News
  • Electronic Iraq
  • Inside Iraq
  • Iraq Crisis Bulletin
  • Iraq Daily
  • Iraq Economy
  • Iraq Energy
  • Iraq Journal
  • Iraq Net
  • Iraq Photos
  • Iraq Sport
  • Iraq Updates
  • Iraqi News
  • Iraqi Papers
  • Moreover
  • One World
  • RUSI
  • Sotal Iraq
  • Topix
  • Yahoo
  • Zawya
  • Baghdad Bulletin
  • Economist
  • Az Zaman - ENGLISH
  • Iraq Today
  • Guardian
  • Al Mannarah
  • Al Ahali
  • Al Fourat
  • Al Itijah Al Akhar
  • Al Ittihad
  • Al Sabah
  • Al Tariq
  • Alef Yaa
  • Baghdad
  • Baghdad
  • Iraq Today
  • Radio Dijla
  • humint

    This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?